The power of a training design

2 weeks ago I attended a very special training program. A whole weekend, or actually 3 days, no phone, no smartwatch (Yes…) 50 strangers, 2 trainers and more importantly no idea what to expect. For years friends have encouraged me to go to “Be The Change”, in the Netherlands famous for the tv show “Over de streep”. And this particularly is a training program for adults on personal growth.

As a life long learner I am always interested in going to a training program that is so inspiring to others, but of course as a learning professional I had so many questions. Why should I go? What’s the program about? What’s the learning objective? What should be my learning objective in order to go? And the answer always was: “I can’t tell you, it is Be The Change, you need to trust me, it will change your life”. Yeah right, you do know that you are talking to a person who lives, eats and breathes learning and training programs. I cannot say I attended all of the different training programs in the world, but also am I not easily convinced a training program “will change my life”. And to be honest I wasn’t even quite sure, whether I would want to attend a training program that would change my life. Since it was already pretty good. But somehow, building my own company and being in a constant state of learning and change at the moment and being referred to the training again by a very persistent friend, I thought maybe now is the right timing to go.

So I went, and it WAS life changing, and it WAS the best personal growth program that I have ever seen or experienced. And like everyone else I can’t tell you anything about the design itself, since it is an experience, TO BE EXPERIENCED. As well as that I can’t tell you anything about my experience since that would be too personal for here. But let me tell you from a learning point of view why the training design of this program is perfect, up to a point where every training design you have seen so far in life does not make any sense anymore. And let’s see what we can learn from it.

The 5 biggest reasons for the training design to be perfect:

  • This training program, like no other program I have ever seen, that builds trust in a group of 50 people that after a day you would trust them with your life. And that you voluntarily want to stay in touch with as much as you can. Have you ever experienced that?
  • This training program, like no other program I have ever seen, was a program where every exercise and every activity made sense. It was in context, served a purpose and not once did I think about the training design while undergoing the training. Have you ever experienced that?
  • This training program, like no other program I have ever seen, makes you want to help others more then you want to help yourself. The people in the group and any other person outside of the group. While you are working on your own issues at the same time. Just because you want to become a better person. Have you ever experienced that?
  • This training program, like no other program I have ever seen, has trainers who have been improving and evolving together with the program for the last 30 years. That is quality that we cannot imagine. Have you ever experienced that?
  • This training program, like no other program I have ever seen, makes you want to make an actual change in your life and in your own behavior. It teaches you that even the smallest “acts of change” can make a difference in your own life and that of others. And ever since the program I have done an act of change for myself and others every single day. Have you ever experienced that?

A program like this, that has evolved over 30 years constantly getting better and better, is really life changing to experience. As a person and as a learning professional. So what can we learn from it in our industry? So many things. Here are the 5 most important ones.

  • In a world of online learning and online tools, please let us not forget the power of people coming together and spending time together;
  • Never underestimate the need for an excellent training design;
  • Never underestimate the need for excellent trainers who grow with the program, help evolve it, own it!;
  • Always keep evolving your program and making it better. Because it can always improve, it is never done, like learning is never done.
  • We should never forget that people’s life’s can change massively in training programs and we need to be aware of our impact. We have to take responsibility for this.

And no I am not being paid to be sending out this blog. I’m sending it out for three reasons, as a massive thank you to dear friend Erik Smithuis who persisted on me going to the program, a massive thank you to Yvon and Rich for making this their life’s work and mostly because if any training program in the world ever deserved a referral from me, being a dedicated learning professional. It is this one.

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